Literally breaking this minute, here’s some huge news, albeit not unexpected: Volkswagen of America has halted production for the U.S. market of one of the most instantly recognizable and highly influential cars in modern automotive history, the subcompact Golf. Assembly of the landmark econocar will end later this month at Volkswagen’s plant in Puebla, Mexico, as the iconic automaker prepares to unveil an entirely new Mk 8 Golf GTI and Golf R, with their arrival in showrooms eyed for sometime this fall.
How important was the Golf to Volkswagen? Although it was sold side-by-side with the Beetle for a time after its 1974 introduction – in the United States, it was first known as the Rabbit, and built for a time in New Stanton, Pennsylvania – the Golf ultimately shoved Volkswagen’s pioneering vehicle aside, at least in the U.S. market. The Golf has been produced across eight generations, and its front-engine/front-drive/water-cooled execution instantly redefined everything Volkswagen had been until that point. More than 2.5 million copies of the car have been sold in the United States alone, including the fleet of baby-blue diesel Rabbits, with matching interiors, that did yeoman duty as photo and circulation cars at the newspaper where I worked in New Jersey. One car’s dashboard broke free due to the diesel’s incessant pounding, but who cares? The last of the current design, the 2021 Golf TSI, is the sole Golf model now offered and rides on Volkswagen’s MQB platform. Current cars will remain on sale until the inventory from Puebla is exhausted.